Clare Johnson was born and raised in Seattle. She has recently returned to her hometown after living the last several years in various parts of England. She received her BA in Visual Art and Creative Writing from Brown University in 2004, having also completed a year-long Studio Programme in Painting at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. After graduating, she spent time in Melbourne, Australia before completing her MA Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London in 2006.
Following the completion on her graduate degree, Clare stayed in England, living and working in London, Cambridge, and Oxford. In 2007, she was chosen for a group exhibition at the prestigious Jerwood Space and was shortlisted for the Polly Campbell Award. Her participation in the 2009 Oxford Contemporary led to a solo exhibit at Guy’s Hospital later that year, and the subsequent purchase of 35 of her drawings for their permanent collection.
Clare’s work is also represented in the collections at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and Glucksman Ireland House in New York, as well as various private collections in the UK, USA, and Turkey. She has exhibited widely throughout the UK, and won numerous awards including the Michael S. Harper Poetry Prize and London’s Pride in the House art competition. Over the years, she has also taught popular classes in creative writing and visual art at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge and Lauderdale House in London, and lectured for Cambridge University’s Festival of Ideas. Since moving back to Seattle, Clare continues to work in both writing and visual art, making paintings and drawings from her Jackson Street studio.
(Clare Johnson’s drawings are all original, hand-drawn using metal pen nibs dipped in lightfast India ink, which will not fade over time. They are not prints, multiples, or limited editions. More examples of Clare’s work can be seen at her website, www.clarejohnson.com.)
I have always loved houses. I love looking at them, exploring them, imagining them, inventing the home that could provide the security my world has sometimes lacked. These works imagine that place over and over, as if trying hard enough could make it a reality. They are homesick drawings, obsessive and lonely, yet comforting and sweet. Each on constructs a safe, homey space that delights in its particular location. Beneath this, however, lies the nagging worry of how someone could reach it. They are soothing constructions, small and lovingly labored over, but also undeniably unlikely in real life. My creative practice often explores the overlaps and disconnects between where we’ve been and where we’d like to be. I want to acknowledge both the everyday truth and the profound tragedy of our inability to exist in more than one time and place.
In my work, losses we treat as ordinary—days ending, landscapes changing, years passing—are mingled with larger inevitable changes such as friends growing apart or the death of a loved one. I want my art to work like a band-aid for these losses—simultaneously signifying a wound itself as well as the healing attention given to it.